Triathlete's World Fab Four: Thames Gargler

Introducing the third member of our Triathlete's World Fab Four… Paul (aka Thames Gargler)

Paul is a veteran of two sprint triathlons, and is planning to focus on open water success in the run up to the London Triathlon - from the 'mosh pit' of a mass start to wriggling out of his wetsuit quickly in transition.

Paul will be using our brand new Olympic distance triathlon training schedule as a basis for his training (starting May 23).

He’ll be posting his training progress on a regular basis, and feedback the training and nutrition advice given to him by the team at Triathlete's World so make sure you check back regularly to find out how he gets on.

You can read more about Paul’s triathlon background and goals here.

Good luck Paul!




  • Hello.

    I suppose I should start with the name. It doesn't refer to a peculiar oral hygiene routine, but to what is perhaps the greatest cause of trepidation ahead of my first open-water tri: spluttering - because of poor technique, exhaustion or the flailing limbs of others - my way through the swim. Based on my performance in the sprint triathlons I have so far completed, I think my swimming might actually be relatively stronger than my cycling, but somehow the prospect of 90 or so minutes on a bike (being overtaken) doesn't evoke anything like as much concern as the swim.

    The training I've got planned, and TW has got planned for me, over the next few weeks will hopefully help address these concerns, and help in other areas to which I should perhaps be giving more thought than I am. If I learn any useful tips, I'll pass them on - feel free to do the same!
  • Hi

     Can't believe that you are the oldest of the 33 you are a youngster around these forumsimage

    I think for us runners the swim is always the part we dread most.................but once you get to practice openwater swimmer.....most of us find it easier to swim in awetsuit than without

     good luck

  • Thanks, as reported on her forum thread by Minty Fresh last week's OW session was really useful in terms of getting over the fear of the cold, the murkiness, and of the compression inside the wetsuit. The buoyancy was great, and - I suppose - could more than make up for the lack of pool walls to boing off every 30 or so metres. The tips we learnt from the RG active coach - relax, straighter arm than normal, 10 to 2 arm position, and don't worry too much about the legs - did really help. I'll be back there for more next Saturday morning, then quickly reverting to pool mode for the Crystal Palace Sprint on the Sunday.
  • I had a panic attack the first time I swam in the sea.  It took me two seperate attempts to get in deep enough to get out of my depth, and then anohter two or three attempts before I was able to swim more than about 10 strokes.

    That was in 2008.  Since then I have become addicted to sea swimming and enjoy it more than the running.

    I'm only sharing this for those who feel like it is the hardest thing that they ahve ever done to get into open water.  It does get easier as you get more confidence and practice.

  • It's a bit quiet in here, innit?
  • Week 2:

    My training routine, for want of a much less formal description, has been something like this:

    Monday: 25 mile round trip to work, very stop-start. 1-hour structured swim session. This is a weekly session arranged by my running club (Wimbledon Windmilers) and involves a variety of drills which, in all likelihood, I would not bother with if doing my own swim. That's why I get so much out of these sessions. I'll try and make a note tonight of what the session covers. One year of going to these sessions has knocked 1 minute off my 400m time trial time.

    Tuesday: cycle commute. Unfortunately, stuff to do in the evening prevents me from attending running training. Maybe no bad thing as left calf still a little sort from 11 mile run on Sunday.

    Wednesday: not a jot of exercise. An absolute novelty.

    Thursday: cycle commute, then hill training with the running club. 12 reps up a grassy hill in Richmond Park. Probably about 6 or 6 miles in total include the jog there from Wimbledon.

    Friday: a 20-20 cricket match with some friends. Probably not part of the recommended training schedule. No injuries.

    Saturday: with a race the next day I can't do my usual Surrey Hills 60-70 mile bike ride, so this is an opportunity to get another open water session in. Having benefited hugely from the helpful beginners guide session earlier in the month, I'm happy to go with the more advanced group and basically get on with lots of swimming, with the occasional sprint race chucked in to get us used to the washing machine experience around the buoys. Pleased how quickly my qualms about the temperature / murkiness of the water have gone. Mental note taken to not overdo it at the beginning, as relative pace compared to the other swimmers trails off noticeably as the session wears on.

    Sunday: Crystal Palace Sprint Triathlon. Very impressively organised, and the (to me) unfamiliar environs at the top of a tree-lined hill, replete with the 60's concrete National Sports Centre, provides an interesting way of killing the time between registration and setting off. 750m swim (15 x 50m) in 14:42 (ranking 173); 20k bike in 43:15 (216); 5k run in 20:46 (70). Confirms that my cycling is, in fact, my weakest discipline. Overall I am 127th out of 510. Things learnt: take the extra time to make sure you put your cycling / running shoes on properly, as a bit of looseness can be both annoying and time wasting to fix once you've set off. Also, make sure drinks and energy gel etc.. are easily accessibly in transition; and make sure you take these on board during the bike ride, as it is much easier to eat / drink then then during the run. Finally, I need to get in lots of proper brick training, i.e. running straight off the bike. Cycling home then running half an hour later isn't the same. I'll let you know how it goes....
  • The next riveting installment:

    Monday: the usual bike ride to and from work. I use the term bike ride deliberately, as I've come to the view that there is a big difference between using your bike to get from A to B, and actually gaining some speed, technique and fitness benefits whilst doing so. My journey to work definitely falls into the former category. It does, however, burn a few calories and sharpen up the sense of survival; the drivers of South London surely show far greater disregard for my wellbeing than I can expect from fellow triathletes in the Open Water swim. The usual Monday evening swim session involved lots of paddle work, which feels great for the first few minutes, then becomes exhausting. Still, I am developing a better 'feel' for the water.

    Tuesday: cricket nets and 5000m on the rowing machine in lieu of the usual running training.

    Weds: made the most of a day off work by doing a 12-mile run and then, a few hours later, 90 mins of hill and interval work on the bike with my tri club.

    Thurs: a miserable bike ride home through the worst downpour for ages, followed (post-shower) by pyramid training with the running club. Once more, I am really sluggish. More food required?

    Sat: 55 mile Box Hill cycle. The hills are beginning to feel a bit easier, but I'm still way off the pace.

    Sun: a day off, ahead of...

    Mon: Thames Turbo Sprint Triathlon. 426m / 20k / 5k. In terms of performance: 09:10 (70th) / 44:23 (221st (jesus!)) / 22:02 (69th). Pretty obvious where I need to improve. And the maths is compelling: a 10% improvement in each discipline would yield savings of 1 min / 4.30 mins / 2.15 mins. And that's in a sprint. Hopefully having not done 55 miles 2 days before will knock a couple of minutes off the cycle on the big day.

    Tues: 3 mile race with my club. 18:02, a PB by 17 seconds. The more cycling I do, the worse my cycling gets, and the better my running becomes. Trying to work out why I felt good tonight but so bad last Thursday. Answers on a postcard please.

  • This is a great read! Tres helpful!
  • Thames, just found this thread - keep it up - there'll be loads of people lurking and reading!

    I've been reading because I'm in my normal post-race 'don't want to be at work, want to race again' mode.  Did Windsor Oly at the weekend (just 2nd Oly) and though I was pretty slow (1000th out of 1500!), now itching to do something about the flipping swim finally.  I reckon a breast stroker overtook me at one point (35 mins!). 

    Did London last year as my first Oly so really looking forward to reading about your journey there - and chipping in occasionally!

  • Have we lost him ? Its been 2 weeks since he was on ?
  • Simbux, my swim time is currently 35 mins! Impressed with your oly, shall I do one on the lead up to the London tri?
  • Kiwi K - you're doing the Olympic at London right?  I only started this lark last year, and did 2 sprints in the run up to London which was the focus.  If you do an Oly before London it's going to take some of the shine off London as the first big one isn't it?

  • Simbux thats a very good point! I hadn't thought about it like that! I was focussed on being as prepared as I could be. Which sprint races did you do last year?

     (Paul, sorry for taking over your forum!!)

  • Now three weeks. He's definitely drowned.
  • He's still alive - rather belatedly read this thread and realised that I know him (the photo obviously helped lol) image
    As I'm a tri-god, I'll be giving him loads of hints and tips next time I see him at the club image
  • hairier half wrote (see)
    He's still alive - rather belatedly read this thread and realised that I know him (the photo obviously helped lol) image
    As I'm a tri-god, I'll be giving him loads of hints and tips next time I see him at the club image
    Aww aint that nice of you HH, I love you image
  • Hello. I'm back. A combination of holiday, moving out of my flat, general busyness, and a lack of anything new to report explains the quietness. But now it's 26 days and counting and here's what's on my mind:

    1. My shoulder hurts. Lots of serving during tennis games on holiday has awoken Rotator Cuff Tendonitis. I'm oblivious to this 99% of the time but lots of swim training with paddles does aggravate it . I'm hoping that 3 weeks with no tennis will let it recover, but not ideal. especially with the need to put in lots of distance swims over the next few weeks.

     2. Wetsuit fit. My wetsuit seems to be a very good fit, but the 'snug' fit does create the need to either readjust (not really an option while swimming) or bear severe discomfort after about 10 minutes. I'm hoping that trial and error over the next few weeks will reveal the most comfortable way of wearing it. Any tips gents?

     3. It's warm in there! As a statement of the obvious, open water is a lot warmer in July than it had been in May. I'm open to any suggestions as to how to keep cool when all togged up in a wetsuit. Presumably, letting water into the suit when first entering the water helps. What else? And are swim caps mandatory for all / most OW triathlons? I'm sure I could get by without one!

  • Thanks. Good point. And I suppose they help keep goggle straps protected from knocks too.
  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    swim caps will be compulsory in London Tri - not only for safety but to ID which wave you're in. if you look around and your hat colour is the sole one waiting to start the swim - you're in the wrong wave!!!
  • i quite often train without my wetsuit ... makes a nice change ... especially when warm
  • Thanks to you both for your comments. I'd gladly swim without my wetsuit, but adjusting to the heat and the ballbreaking fit is, I suppose, a useful part of the training. I'm also getting used to the extra buoyancy. And the more often I put it on, the more practice I get at taking it off....
  • Here's another thought: what % speed loss can people expect to suffer in a 10k run when it is preceeded by a 1500m swim and a 40k bike? Brick sessions I have done hint at a 25% drop in pace (going from 4:00 1k to 5:00/k). How do other people's Tri run times compare to normal times for the same distance run fresh? Thanks.
  • Dont end up relying on the extra you get fro a wetsuit, you never know when a race is going to be declared NON-westuit in a heat wave, its happen to a few of us on here
  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    "How do other people's Tri run times compare to normal times for the same distance run fresh"

    for the pros - very little; for us mortals - varies.

    my 10k in a tri is about 10-15% slower than a stand alone time but that will depend on the course and how hard I've worked the bike. also experience helps to improve the run times as you get more used to running off the bike.
  • TG - with regards to taking your wetsuit off, just before you exit the water, let some water in at the neck - when you stand up it'll flush down the suit, making it easier/not as difficult to get off image

    I hope you joined in singing Happy Birthday at the pool last night image

  • If I'm feeling a bit warm in my wetsuit when swimming OW I just give a quick tug at the neck of the wetsuit mid-stroke to let some water in. It also balloons the wetsuit a bit to relieve the pressure of a tight wetsuit.

  • "... It also balloons the wetsuit a bit to relieve the pressure of a tight wetsuit..."

    so does breaking wind image
Sign In or Register to comment.